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6 Must-Read Books To Change Your Life In 2017

6 Must-Read Books To Change Your Life In 2017

As we all are aware, reading is fundamental. It’s something we were forced to do as a kid and something that, with time, we’ve learned to enjoy. Or at the very least, see the benefits of continuously learning throughout life. Because of this, every year, I resolve to read more books, but I find myself overwhelmed by the choices as soon as I begin. Where do I start? That new exciting adventure novel that they’re turning into a movie this summer? The sci-fi fantasy that will allow me to escape reality into a scary dystopian future? A taste of non-fiction with that juicy new biography that just came out?

I’ve put together a list of six must-read books that will absolutely change your life in 2017, from improving your habits to finding love, from finding out what makes life worth living to learning to listen (and be heard).

Inspirational Books to Change your Life

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

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Inspirational Books

    If you’re like me, you may have a pile (*ahem* a couple of piles) of random stuff lying around the house. Every time I try to clean up, that pile is there in the corner, defying my attempts to declutter. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing [1] may be the answer to all of our clutter problems. In this #1 New York Times best-selling guide, Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers by the hand and leads them step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

    2. Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body

    Inspirational Books

      If you’ve been looking for a way to lose weight, stay fit and healthy, rid your body of pains, and achieve total wellness, then Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body[2] is a must-read for you. Dr. Robert G. Silverman’s book challenges conventional medicine, which treats symptoms instead of systems, and provides a rationale similar to Chinese medicine. His book shows the way of using functional medicine to focus on starting inside with the gut and working our way outside for lasting health.

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      3. The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships

      Inspirational Books

        Do you find yourself thinking about what you’re going to say so much that you are not actually listening to what someone else is saying? Do you ever feel like you’re failing to connect with others and your relationships are suffering as a result? The book The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships [3] teaches us that we take it for granted that one person talks and the other person listens, and unfortunately, most of us aren’t listening as well as we think we are. Become one of the 125,000 readers who have learned from experienced therapist Mike Nichols’ easy-to-learn techniques and practical exercises for becoming a better listener, as well as making yourself heard and understood even in the most difficult of situations.

        4. Are You the One for Me?: Knowing Who’s Right and Avoiding Who’s Wrong [4]

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        Inspirational Books

          Whether you’re married and wondering if you could be happier, single and wondering how to avoid another wrong partner, or in love and wondering whether your partner is right for you, the goal is the same: find (and keep) the best partner and make your love last. Best-selling author and renowned relationship expert Barbara De Angelis has the answer for you in this groundbreaking book on relationships. Learn how to create a fulfilling relationship by first understanding yourself and the one you love, and then transforming your life with the formula for creating love that lasts.

          5. When Breath Becomes Air

          Inspirational Books

            Get ready to be touched, inspired, and breathless. The #1 New York Times Bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air[5] tells the story of a young, idealistic neurosurgeon who found out he had lung cancer. In the face of insurmountable odds, he walks readers through how he chose to live the rest of his life, leaving us with the question, “What makes life worth living?” This breathtaking and touching book inspires all of us to live more meaningful lives.

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            6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business[6]

            Inspirational Books

              Why do habits exist, and how can they be changed? What is the key to exercising regularly, losing weight, becoming more productive, and achieving success? Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us on a thrilling journey to understanding human nature and its potential. By the end of this book, readers will understand how we can transform our businesses, communities, and our lives by harnessing the power of our habits.

              Featured photo credit: Makunin/Pixabay via pixabay.com

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              Lindsay Mattison

              Chef and Cookbook Writer

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              Last Updated on January 15, 2019

              How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

              How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

              Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

              In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

              Step right up, don’t be shy!

              Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

              The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

              Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

              Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
              So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

              A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

              Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

              Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

              When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

              Culturally Conditioned

              We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

              I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

              The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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              Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

              Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

              Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

              1. Broadens Your Network

              After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

              2. Improves Your Communication Skills

              I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

              Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

              3. Continually Learning

              So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

              Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

              4. Increases Self Confidence

              Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

              Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

              So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

              How to Talk to Strangers

              Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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              1. Say Hello

              Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

              Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

              Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

              2. Ask About Them

              Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

              You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

              As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

              3. Just Do It

              One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

              When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

              Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

              4. Don’t Take It Personal

              One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

              When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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              5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

              I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

              One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

              6. Detach

              A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

              Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

              7. Share Your Stories

              Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

              To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

              So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

              8. Give a Compliment

              Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

              When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

              9. Relax Your Body Language

              If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

              When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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              If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

              10. Practice, Practice, Practice

              Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

              Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

              After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

              The Bottom Line

              As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

              There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

              Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

              Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

              More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

              Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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